In this post: Feeling unsure of your decor choices? Don’t know how to create that cohesive flow in your decor? Here’s the foolproof 3-step plan for how to decorate your home!

You want your house to feel like home. To look stylish. Cohesive. Pulled together. Just like your favorite homes on HGTV.  And you would love to have that soft place to land and to rest your weary soul from the worries of the outside world.  

Finally decorate your own home – with confidence!

You’re so much closer to a beautifully-decorated home than you think. You just need a little help to get there!

Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or you’ve tried and you feel like you’ve wasted so much time and money. You’ve googled all the things and instead of helping, all those articles have just left you feeling more confused. You still aren’t quite sure how to decorate your home. 

Here’s how to decorate a home in three simple steps. 

How most people go about decorating

By the time I talk to them, most people have tried to decorate just like this… 

They see a room they like on Pinterest and they think maybe that’s how they want their space to look. They pin the picture and keep scrolling. Then they see another room they like. And another and another. The problem is each space has different colors and styles. Now they’re confused.

So, they spend some time on google, searching for ‘how to decorate’ articles. Cause, you know, maybe those will have the answers. But the 195,000,000 results that come up are “11 Foolproof Decorating Tips”, or “52 Best Interior Decorating Secrets” type posts.

They are filled with great ideas for various parts of decorating, but none of them say where to start decorating or share which steps come nextWhich equals more frustration and confusion. 

So they try to make their home look like an Instagrammer’s house they like. They go out and buy paint, a new rug and some pillows. Maybe a new lamp or two for good measure. But when they get them home those things just don’t look right. 

Or maybe they go out looking for pieces and become so overwhelmed with all the options they just can’t choose anything. So they come home with nothing. And they’re back to square one.

Or they want to use what they already have, but they just can’t quite pull it all together. No matter how they rearrange the furniture and accessories the room still looks off.

Now they’ve wasted oodles of time and money, and they’re no further ahead.

They’re left scratching their head, asking “Why can’t I just figure out this decorating thing already?

Does that sound familiar?

I wasn’t always good at decorating either

I wasn’t always a good decorator. I didn’t know how to decorate our house at all.

Sure I could recognize a pretty space when I saw one. But I definitely couldn’t create one. 

Wanna know why?

Because I was decorating without a plan.

I was doing it all willy-nilly, trying to follow all the tips and tricks in no particular order. Just like the person in the story above!

Don’t believe me? Look at this photo from our first house:

  • No balance – there is nothing on the right to visually balance the cabinet on the right.
  • No texture – save for the wall-to-wall carpet.
  • The colors are off – warm pain and wood, cool carpet.
  • And what is that “garland” across the top of the photo frames?!

(You can see more of my previous decorating in this post if you’re curious.)

The problem was I was just reading random articles and buying this here, picking up that there, trying this paint color on that wall.

But there was no order, no organization, no step-by-step do this first, then this.

Even the ‘decorating for idiots’ books are hundreds upon hundreds of pages long. Which seems rather ridiculous in my opinion, because beginners shouldn’t have to sift through all that information, right?

Practice, Study, Practice

So I buckled down and learned all that I could. I: 

  • studied photos of homes that I loved to find all the beautiful details.
  • visited model homes
  • scoured design and decorating magazines and poured over high-end catalogs.
  • even completed an in-depth program in interior design from a popular New York design school to fill in any gaps I may have missed on my own. (Which was, quite frankly, rather boring.)

All of this took me years. 

But with all that practice and learning I finally – finally – figured out how to put everything together to make our entire home cozy and beautiful.

1050-basswood-ct-oshawa-on-l1h-large-015-7-1050-basswood-court-1499x1000-72dpi 1050-basswood-ct-oshawa-on-l1h-large-008-14-1050-basswood-court-1499x1000-72dpi

How I decorated our first house, versus how I decorated our third house:

And our current home:

entry from hall wood church pew black doors gold framed art white farmhouse kitchen with huge island butcher block counters

Warm Neutral Dining Room Wood Table

Shiplap and Barn Beam Fireplace with TV Above

So how does this apply to you? Here’s how…

How to decorate your home: the foolproof plan!

After all that learning and practicing, I noticed there was a pattern to my process. So, I finessed it and sanded off the rough edges. Then I wrote it down as a foolproof plan for how to decorate, that I could share with you!

It’s the same 3 steps for every person and every home. No matter your budget, style, or home. 

I’ve used it again and again. 

Wanna know what it is?

Here’s my simple 3-step process for how to create a more cohesive style in your home, with less time and money wasted!

1. Discover your unique decorating style.

You need to know your style in order to decorate well. I wrote a whole post on the top 3 reasons you need to know your style.

To summarize, knowing your style is important because:

  • it gives you guidelines to follow for your home decor
  • it saves you time and money 
  • it gives you confidence in your decor decision making

Figuring out your style has to come first when decorating. Most of us like more than one style. So part of this step is deciding how to balance those styles into something that is beautiful and uniquely you. 

2. Put together a whole home decorating plan.

The second step is to look at how you want your entire home to look and function, so that you can get that cohesive flow everyone is always talking about

This whole home plan for your style and color is key to making your decor look beautiful and deliberate instead of random and chaotic. 

Which main color will you use? Which accent colors? And in which rooms? Plus how will your styles (and maybe the styles your spouse likes) work together to look good instead of like a crazy smorgasbord? 

Answering these questions and others is how your create a whole home decor plan. 

3. Decorate one room at a time in the right order.

After you’ve outlined your unique style and put a plan together for how it will work in your whole house, you can tackle one room at a time as your time and budget allow. By decorating with the big things (like furniture) first, then the smaller things (accessories) in each room, you can create the home you love, one space at a time.  

More How to Decorate Tips

shannon photo and sig oct 2022

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  1. I just looked at your course. Looks like something that will help me. I want to figure out my style and then how to decorate on a budget.Also, I have lots of hand me down furniture – i love the shapes of some of them but I don’t know how to make anything work together.

  2. What i most want to learn is mixing two different styles cohesively. I would also like to know about mixing patterns.

    1. Oh yes! And the mixing patterns – there’s totally a super easy cheat for that in the handbook!

  3. I was just reading about your book and it looks like a wonderful resource to help me decorate our home for once! We love our historic home, built in 1849 with exposed brick walls, original wide plank wood flooring and high ceilings! I need help utilizing all of our space so it’s beautiful but also functional for our two little boys. Thanks

  4. age 74, moved into a townhouse from family home with bits & pieces. need cohesion, tips to use what I have, very low budget.
    one green/ivory Chinese rug in living room is focal. very difficult fireplace painted white bricks.

  5. Hi Shannon. I am so excited to read the course content! I am constantly redecorating my house, but never feel like it’s complete or what I had in my head. I am looking forward to learning more about choosing paint color, furniture arrangement and using accessories without adding clutter.

    Thanks in advance for a one stop shop handbook!

  6. I am so excited. I cannot wait for the book to get here. I want to learn everything. How to bring a room together. What items to choose, where to put them. How to make it all look cohesive instead of cluttered!!

  7. What I want most to learn is how to take the many wonderful items I already own (pictures, figurines, etc.) and pull them in a pleasing and cohesive decorting scheme.

  8. Really interested in this! We’ll be buying a house next year (the first for my husband and I) and Cozy and Beautiful is exactly what I’m looking for! Interior decorating is a whole new medium for me, so this should be really helpful. I LOVE that there are worksheets!

    1. How exciting – congrats!!! The worksheets are so helpful in really getting the lessons. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I have a lot of door openings in my front room. And a long wall. I would love to make it look awsome. But I am stuck :((( I need your help. I love your spunk & design decorating style. You really rock at what you do !!! Could you please stop by & help? ;))

    1. Oh that I could go and help everyone in person! Decorating Uncomplicated is the next best thing I could come up with!

  10. So many things sound fun to learn! One thing for sure is learning to meld different styles. My husband and I have different styles we prefer, so I’d like to learn to blend them together!

  11. I definitely need help w/ decorating as a couple – my hubs and i have totally different styles/tastes and it becomes such a tug of war whenever we try to decorate ANYTHING!

  12. I would love to have my home decorated so that as soon as friends and family walk in the door they relax and feel right at home!

  13. Like most people, I look at Pinterest and wish I could create a room that looks inviting, comfortable and stylish but livable. That is what I want to learn and accomplish.

  14. I would love to create that open door policy atmosphere! It would be nice if I could create a cohesive flow to my home!

  15. What started out as themed rooms 10 years ago doesn’t work for me anymore. I’d love to know how to combine my Middle Eastern, Medieval, Native American, African decor and my love of bright colors and sparkly things into some sort of cohesive mix that speaks to my soul.
    Can you work with that?

    1. Ah, themes. Yes. Not quite the same as style! You can absolutely combine those things if you do it the right way, Christine!

  16. I would love to learn how to style my shelves and book cases with the stuff I have. How to make a room flow nicely.

    1. Okay. A little styling help. Got it! And flow. Yes, definitely recurring themes – and definitely covered in Cozy & Beautiful!

  17. As new empty-nesters, living far from family and friends, I would like to find ways to create guest spaces that will appeal to the friends coming to visit and perhaps potential AirBnB clients. I would like all of the spaces to flow together in style and color but still be unique and inviting. I have been on the same hit and miss learning trail that you described. I am hoping your book and website will bring all of the elements together in one place. Thanks.

  18. We will be moving into a new house soon with all new rooms to decorate! I want an easy look that will be easy to update with accessories, but not get to carried away or themey. I can’t wait to get started and your handbook would be a great help!

    1. Congrats on the new house! Sounds like you have the right ideas and just need a little help to implement them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    I can’t wait for YOU to TEACH me to fish!

  20. I want to identify my style, learn to accessorize without creating a cluttered space, learn to, select patterns and colors that are timeless, that I won’t regret choosing and that won’t be too matchy-matchy…basically…I want to learn it ALL!!

    1. Sounds like you do want it all! Lol. But that’s okay. That “all” is absolutely doable!

  21. I would love to learn how to create a home that would reflect my changing style through the years. We are technically new empty- nesters, but still live in our large family home. Our home is frequently (weekly) visited by our five grown children, along with spouses and children. Our family has just begun to grow again!! It’s a wonderful thing, but at the same time, I want to create a very livable, yet stylish home. It needs to be multi-functional and kid friendly (and dog friendly). I especially need to find a way to create more seating that is comfortable in our family room, which often hosts 12-14 adults. Sometimes more!! I love the style you share in your blog and would love to know more about how to create a cohesive look, such as yours!! I’m really looking forward to seeing the study course and putting it to use!

    1. Oh Sheri! That’s exactly how I see my own house in about 10 years! Livable and stylish and great for hosting are exactly what we want at our house too. Can’t wait to hear about your progress. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I was just on the phone last night with my daughter who just bought her first home. She’s asking me for help but I think she & I both could learn a lot from Cozy & Beautiful. I appreciate decorating help any time I can get it!

  23. I’d really like ot know WHERE to start – I have so many things, but am confused as to how to start – with paint selection for one. Trying to go from Tuscan reds and golds to neutrals, beiges, tans, creams. Have been picking up more white deco items- even new coverlets and have painted several items, but haven’t yet found the wall colors I’m happy with. Help!!

  24. Exactly what I need right now! I’m all over the place and overwhelmed. Looking forward to direction so money is well spent with results I’ll be happy with…for once!

    1. Aw. I’m so sorry. Can’t wait to help you clear it all up for you and hear about your progress!

  25. I want to learn just what my ‘style’ is, how to incorporate it into each room, and use what I already have along with what I can afford to buy. I want to learn what to do so I can be proud to have people come into my home!

  26. You described me to a “T”! I have tons of pictures on Pinterest, files of pictures cut from magazines over the years, paint swatches, pictures with paint I think I like, fabrics I like, decorating the mantel, coordinating fabrics, etc., etc.! I have wasted so much time and money over the years trying to figure out my decorating style! I usually just end up copying something I liked at someone’s house or from the internet or a magazine. I don’t think my house looks terrible, but it just doesn’t flow well. We still live in our two story house that our kids grew up in, but now we have more people since our kids now have spouses and their own children. I just can never seem to put it all together. I am soooooooooo looking forward to Cozy and Beautiful! Thank you so much for your blog! I love your home and always look forward to seeing what’s next. I am kind of glad you are moving so I can see you start all over again! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Lol. I think more than a few people are looking forward to our move for more ideas. I know Decorating Uncomplicated can help with that flow you’re looking for too!

  27. I am moving into a new house soon and would really love to do things right the first time and not waste a lot of money ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Incorporating my style throughout my home so that if flows nicely from room to room all why staying within a small budget and accessories. I’m great and copying the inspiration I find on blogs and pinterest but not so great at putting those ideas together on my own. I could also use some lessons on furniture layout for our living/family room. I’m just really stumped on the best layout for the space due to the placement of the fireplace, back door and windows.

  29. I need to figure out how to pick a sofa color. I’d like the rooms to flow together with a similar style. I love arts & crafts and have 2 Stickley pieces but also like industrial now. Have huge walls with nothing on them for fear of making a mistake. Have lived in our century old farm house for 30 years and the bathrooms need updating. Obviously I need help….

  30. Our house burned down June 30th. My granddaddy built it and raised my Mom and Aunt there. I want to honor the hand-hewn knotty pine we saved from the living room walls and the shiplap we were able to reclaim by going with a “wood/galvanized metal” theme, but want to do it “modern”, too. Not too “kitschy”. I KNOW you can help because I LOVE LOVE LOVE EVERYTHING about your rooms as I see your designs!!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your home. So sorry. I cannot wait to see what you do after reading the handbook though!


  31. I am always so inspired after reading your blog and then I put down my tablet… look around… and sink back into my skin. I keep trying but can’t seem to pull it together from my mind images. Our home continues to look like a big box store – booorrrring. I am afraid to paint or put up wallpaper for fear of it turning out worse then when I started. Our main living and kitchen areas are open concept so a lot of long walls. On top of it all, I am a stay-at-home Mom with a minimal budget and a busy babe. I so desperately need a more step by step guide in making our house a home!

  32. From your course I would really like to learn my decor style and how to avoid trying to use too many styles in my home. My rooms don’t flow and don’t feel right to me.

    1. Yes. Good thoughts for sure. I know you can do it. And Johanna, all that is covered in the handbook!

  33. My new home has been a in state of “partially done” for 2 years. I would LOVE to have a resource that will help me finally have a more completed home. I am so excited to have a guide to help me bring my style into being and finally have a home I can be content to be in.

  34. I’m really looking forward to the entire course! If I had to pick an area, I’d say I’m hoping you can teach me cohesiveness. How to have a cohesive flow without my home being boring. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

  35. What I most want to learn from your course is how to accessorize shelves, coffee/sofa tables, night stands, etc.

  36. Hi! I’m so excited about this new publication! What I would love to learn from your course is how to create a C&B space, with a minimalistic approach. I love to have beautiful things, but just the few practical items I love!

  37. I’m looking forward and hoping to get guidance on finally making a decision about painting our brick fireplace and deciding what kind of crown molding to use through out the house. I’m terrified of the word “commitment” because I don’t want to make a huge mistake and have a huge financial bill to undo it. I’ve been told once you paint brick there is no easy way to go back. On the other hand, not doing anything is making me anxious and stressed because I’m not “in love” with home yet.

  38. I really want to learn to mix paint colours well so it flows through my home. I’m struggling right now. I’d like to paint it all white but my husband is totally against it. ?

  39. We have a lot of pets….OK we have 6 cats and every room in my house has to be somewhat cat friendly so I am always struggling with what I can decorate with that my cats won’t destroy.

  40. Shannon, I just left you a message regarding the tan Moroccan Trellis rug matching my dark gray sectional on your small house tour post. And then I came across this other post where you are showing what I am guessing is the sectional you got to replace the two loveseats you had. My sectional is a tad darker than yours. I love how your living room looks. Thanks. Zaida.

  41. A plan is very important when you are doing any work. Without a plan may be you can completely the work but you cant make it perfect. And Yes, This is the wasting of money also. In home decoration if you are going to start doing anything then definitely a plan is very important. Thanks for sharing your useful tips and tricks to make a dedicated plan and to work according to that.